Tuesday, March 31, 2009

National Mobile Television Lays Off 47 Staffers, Closed Offices In New Jersey And Florida

By Ken Kerschbaumer
Sports Video Group

NMT Assets Set for Auction Friday; 47 Employees Laid Off

National Mobile Television has laid off 47 staffers, closed offices in New Jersey and Florida, and appears to be setting the stage to close its doors after more than 40 years in operation.

The Torrance, CA-based remote-production company’s secured lender, Wachovia Capital Finance, has also issued a Notice of Public Sale of Collateral for the company’s remaining assets during an auction that will take place April 3 at 10 a.m. CT.Twenty-one employees — 12 engineers and nine administrative workers — remain on hand to service existing clients, notably the MSG Network and the Phoenix Suns (the field shop in Torrance, CA, and the Dallas equipment warehouse remain open).

It is not yet known whether NMT will service MSG and the Suns through the end of the season and playoffs.

“That is still to be decided,” says Wachovia Capital Finance VP Brian Hynds.In recent months, the company sold off assets and contracts to NEP and NCP in an attempt to stay afloat.

However, the current economic climate and a lack of consistent future business led to Wachovia’s decision to close the doors. Assets to be sold include two HD production units (HD3 and HD10), seven digital trucks, and one side-by-side unit.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear that 47 people are losing their jobs. That’s awful. I’m sure we know many of these folks.

That said, it appears that what was predicted when the Field Shop closed is coming to pass, albeit a few years later than expected. Namely, that with the networks now renting all their mobile units, the cost of doing so will rise precipitously. Actually, given the fact that ABC paid NMT to upgrade the mobile units that we couldn’t afford to upgrade, it may not be later than expected after all.

At one point, about three years after the closing of Lodi , I ran into one of the Sports money people who I know quite well from when he was a Unit Manager on the road. This was just after the initial contract with the fixed, special ABC price had expired. I asked how things were working out financially with the NMT deal. He simply rolled his eyes, shook his head and said, “I suspect they are wishing they hadn’t done this.” Perhaps so, but that kind of decision will never be reversed in the corporate political climate of this place.

Again, sorry to hear about our colleagues losing their jobs, especially in these times, but I must confess to a degree of personal satisfaction in hearing that the chickens are coming home to roost (or is it, roast?)


Anonymous said...


This is sad, and a big deal.

While the history of mobile facilities companies is heavy on business failures, I would have thought that NMT would have been big enough to ride out the storm. Then again, perhaps they were under-capitalized, as is often the case with these companies. Or maybe they just had so many trucks (I think over 40 at their peak) that the overhead exposed them too much to business cycles.

One thing I know for sure: it's impossible for a small facilities company, with one or two units, to survive... there just aren't any economies of scale, and the overhead is unsustainable. The networks got out of the mobile unit business because (they said) they didn't want to commit the constant flow of capital to keep the units up-to-date with the newest technology. If it's economically unfeasible for anyone else to do that now, I simply don't know where the industry goes from here.


Anonymous said...


In case you don't know, NMT has a curious history. It was a family run business out of Seattle: "Northwest Mobile", an offshoot of KING TV, owned by the Bullet sisters.

The Bullet family spun off the mobile units to what eventually became "The Oaktree Group" of investors run by Steve Clifford, who I believe was involved in pulling New York City out of its 1970's financial crisis.

Under Clifford--and Oaktree--NMT underwent unsustainable growth, buying up every mobile unit in sight, and slashing prices to unsustainable levels, depressing the prices of the entire industry.

Since then, the company has always been a "Management by Crisis" operation, forever overextended, and perpetually tetering on the verge of disaster. The NHL strike of a few years ago nearly put them out of business.

They had to sell--I presume the banks forced them to--anything that they didn't own outright to pay back the banks. The sold most of the trucks to NEP, which took over their contracts.

Since then, they were a shadow of their former size, and everyone has been wondering when--not if--they would go out of business.


Bill said...

NMT had some really top notch engineers working for them and a good operations team. And the trucks were designed with considerable technological flexibility and functionality for the clientele.

However in the two year period prior to going bankrupt there were some easily readable red flags forecasting NMT's demise. NMT's upper management rarely if ever took a survey/or polls from their employees to assess and reflect on how they were doing as a company. The management 'knew' what they were doing without consulting or concurring with all employees. They acted 'on behalf' of their employees when making the 'best' decisions. However, in terms of best practices, on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, it could be observed that the CEO and engineering staff demonstrated they were not necessarily the open-minded type of people to allow for novel opinions on how things looked through the lenses of others, on how the company was run. Expertise was untapped and presumed irrelevant. Individual efforts to create change were downgraded and smirked upon. For example, unbeknownst to them, some folks might have had questions about viable or non-viable debt leveraging. But there did not exist any type process for gleaning from the talents from within, possible insights for ensuring success through a recession. There were signs that a recession was on the way. But business proceeded as usual. Rather classically, management collected high salaries and managed people as though they were merely a means to their narcissistic ends. Egos forestalled any honest talks about what their priorities could have been. It was typically a sink or swim scenario for many employees. Approaching NMT's predicament in a highly stressed economic downturn would have clearly benefited from relying on wisdom within. This however requires a very high level of humility and proactiveness. The irony is that they (NMT) were creating an anti-intellectual sink or swim situation for themselves as a whole. And the consequences turned out grave for many working individuals supporting families.

Again, this was highly unfortunate yet somewhat predictable.


Anonymous said...

Not to mention vendors of NMT who find themselves left holding the bag without payment for goods and services provided in good faith many months before these doors were closed. Assets were sold to "stay afloat", including assets not yet paid for. While I feel for the workers, the actions of the people in charge were little short of criminal.


Anonymous said...

I am looking for former NMT people that worked out of Houston. I am the former spouse of someone you guys worked with and I need your help. Please contact me!!!
J. Johnson